The small town of West Liberty in the U.S. state of Ohio is a town that was once along the main road between Dayton, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan. With the development of the Interstate Highway system, the town does not see as much vehicle traffic. One of the things that does bring visitors to this town is not necessarily in the town itself, but it is a natural wonder that is east of it.
Welcome to Ohio Caverns.
Some of you are saying, “Oh, great! Another cavern. What is up with this one?”
Ohio Caverns has a few claims. It is the largest cavern in the state of Ohio. It has been recognized as the most colorful cavern in America. It has the ‘Crystal King’, the largest free hanging stalactite in the state of Ohio. Like over caverns, it has formations that are unique. Here, you will see many crystalized formations throughout your tour. The great thing about these caverns is that they are open year-round. If you are in the western part of Ohio, you will want to make your way to see Ohio Caverns.
Some of you are saying, “This must be a very wonderful place to see. It looks like I am going to have to visit this place. There is one thing. This, being a railroad site, are writing about these caverns because these caverns have a connection to the railroad.”
Well, you are right. The Ohio Caverns does have a railroad connection. What is the connection these caverns have with the railroad?
To answer the question, we must go back in time. As mentioned, before the Interstate Highway was built in the United States of America, people drove on roads. The U.S. Routes were the original interstate system, and U.S. Route 68 was the way people went between Dayton, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan. (U.S. Route 68 still passes through the town today.) The early part of the twentieth century was also the heyday of passenger rail travel. During this time, the railroad made many stops in small towns. One of those small towns was West Liberty, Ohio. Why did they come to West Liberty? They wanted to see the Ohio Caverns. The original depot, built in 1900 by the Big 4 Railroad, was partially destroyed by a fire. A new depot was built in 1926, and when the New York Central System came to town, the region was bustling.
The train arrived at the depot in West Liberty. The passengers be-boarded the train, and they were taken by a shuttle to the caverns. They did the tour of the caverns. They were taken back to the train, and they went on their way.
Unfortunately, passenger service ended in 1942, and freight service slowly came to an end as well.
Some of you are saying, “That is very nice, but I guess the railroad is gone and the depot was destroyed.”
Let us say that passenger service is no longer available to West Liberty. The railroad still passes through on the west side of the town. As for the train depot, let us say that things got very sweet.
Some of you are saying, “What do you mean by ‘things got very sweet’?”
The answer is simple. It is now the home of Marie’s Candies (https://mariescandies.com/). Moved to its present location on U.S. Route 68 north of the town center, Marie’s Candies is in the old West Liberty train depot, and the candy shop helped spare this piece of the town’s history from being destroyed. We can all say, ‘How sweet of them’.
Ohio Caverns, as mentioned, is open year-round closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The hours do vary by season. They offer different tours to include the Limestone Tour which is handicap accessible. You can get all the information you need at https://ohiocaverns.com/.
Next time you are in the western part of Ohio, visit West Liberty. Visit Marie’s Candies. Visit Ohio Caverns.